Gov. Northam announces grant to help Virginia universities and colleges fight substance abuse

RICHMOND, Va. – A new grant through the Commonwealth of Virginia will allow eight schools in the state to expand substance use recovery programs, according to a release from Gov. Ralph Northam’s office.

According to the news release from Northam’s office, the participating schools include Longwood University, Radford University, University of Mary Washington, University of Richmond, University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, Virginia Union University, and Washington and Lee University.

Virginia Commonwealth University is in charge of helping these universities and colleges in the Commonwealth set up these programs, and will be doing so with the $675,000 in grant money provided through the  Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) and its federal State Opioid Response funding.

VCU has championed its success through the Rams in Recovery program, and school officials said results were seen almost immediately when the program started.

“Young people who are often living away from home for the first time can be particularly vulnerable, and college campuses can be difficult places if you’re trying to avoid drinking or using substances,” said Governor Northam. “Collegiate recovery programs provide critical resources to help students in recovery have a successful college experience and give them the tools they need to be healthy and thriving well beyond graduation.”

Federal SOR grants from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provide targeted assistance to states that are battling the ongoing opioid crisis. The Commonwealth has now received SAMHSA grants to combat the opioid epidemic for three consecutive years, totaling nearly $40 million.

“Programs that meet the bio-psycho-social needs of Virginia’s college students are important, as they provide a foundation for students to learn, grow, and complete their degree programs,” said Virginia’s Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. “Collegiate recovery programs help create a strong foundation for student success by providing nurturing communities for students as they seek and maintain recovery.”

According to Northam’s office, over the next two years, each of the eight schools will receive support in the manner of site visits, daylong retreats, and monthly collaboration calls to help develop the programs and implement programming, expand outreach strategies, and coordinate on-campus services. Staff members will be trained to deliver recovery ally training in addition to being connected to a national network of collegiate recovery professionals.

Learn more through the full release here.

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